A Newmarket pensioner who was made an MBE in recognition of his efforts to bring the internet to senior citizens, was at Buckingham Palace on Friday to receive his award from Prince Charles.
Mr Paterson, 83, of Norfolk Avenue, was named in the New Year’s Honours and has been described as a trail blazer in his field. It was back in 1999 that he decided to start helping people over 50 get to grips with computers and the internet when the technology was in its infancy.
He set up his own website www.silverhairs.co.uk as a tool to help other sort their computer and internet issues and in its first year it received 20,000 hits. It now averages some 260,000 each year.
“I feel very strongly that this an important feature of modern life from which many older people can benefit but may be afraid to tackle.
“This is a great shame because it can be so helpful, particularly for those who find it difficult to get out and so become isolated and perhaps lonely,” he said.
For Mr Paterson, who is profoundly deaf, computers and later the internet became an effective way of communicating.
He first started using them when he bought an original IBM PC back in 1982 and got a degree from the Open University. “Being deaf I struggle to use the telephone so the computer is a lifeline for me,” he said.
In 2013 he was voted Internet Champion by Age UK and met Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron at Downing Street. He also volunteered to help disabled people with computer problems via the Abilitynet ITCH scheme,
Mr Paterson uses revenue from his website to help children in the Port Elizabeth townships in South Africa.
He went to Buckingham Palace with his wife Patricia, and daughters Lesley and Lisa, who are both former pupils of Newmarket Upper School.
“It was lovely day,” said Mrs Paterson “and Keith had empathy with everybody there.”